Bakeries are brimming with holiday goodies, temperatures are chilly, and the pressure is starting to get that Thanksgiving feast all ready to go.
While the pressure is on for everyone, when it comes to a conscious cook, it may feel like the odds are against you. Maybe you have a family member with a nut allergy, a friend that can’t eat gluten, a few that are trying to avoid sugar, and, of course, there’s you to content with for creating a vegan-friendly table.
Luckily, you’re not alone!
The trend towards offering allergy and diet-conscious dishes is not only what Thanksgiving is all about — sharing, joining, and making everyone feel welcome — but it’s also a simple statement that all of our bodies are different and deserve the right to be treated with respect. By offering a variety of dishes — from gluten-free to nut-free to meat-free — you’re allowing anyone that visits your Thanksgiving table to feel at home.
We know how difficult this may seem! So we’ve compiled a loose guide for some of the most prominent allergens and diet restrictions to give you a helping hand this year!
For those interested in eating more plant-based, we highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App – with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest meatless, vegan, plant-based and allergy-friendly recipe resource to help you get healthy!
Also, don’t forget to check out our ultimate guide to plant-based recipes for Thanksgiving!
So, let’s start simple. Gluten!
When creating a vegan-friendly table, it’s a great idea to take into consideration those family members and friends who have a gluten-allergy (such as Celiac Disease) or those that are gluten-intolerant. A reaction to gluten can be quite severe including digestive discomfort, nausea, vomiting, bloating, gas, and even more severe reactions when it comes to Celiac Disease.
Alright, but what on your table will be most likely to have gluten?
Let’s talk traditional dishes. There’s, of course, biscuits and other bread, then there’s that wonderful gravy, and don’t forget the stuffing and mashed potatoes. These are the top contenders to keep a wary eye on. Here are a few ways to de-glutenize your table, while also keeping it vegan-friendly!
Oh my, oh my, no table is complete without gravy! Even though it’s a staple at both Thanksgiving and Christmas tables, this delightful dressing is also used regularly throughout the year for traditional breakfast and dinner recipes.
Gravy is a “sauce often made from the juices of meats that run naturally during cooking and often thickened with wheat flour or corn starch for added texture.” Basically, everything about traditional gravy is not vegan-friendly and not gluten-free. Swap out that wheat flour for a gluten-free option such as tapioca flour. Instead of “meat juices” use non-dairy milk and/or a meaty juicy vegetable such as mushrooms. From there, you can create whatever profile best fits the rest of your table.
Here are a few gluten-free, vegan gravy recipes to get you going! Miso Gravy, Glowing Turmeric Chanterelle Gravy, Herbed Biscuits with Mushroom Gravy, Biscuits and Mushroom Gravy, or steal this super simple gravy recipe from this Poutine recipe!
Stuffing is that warm, fluffy, delicious side that you simply can’t do without … and it’s usually filled with cow’s milk butter, gluten-filled bread, eggs, and chicken stock. Alright, so how do we go about making this not only vegan but also gluten-free? There are a few tips and tricks!
First off, know your substitutes! Luckily, we’ve got you covered in this How to Make Grain-Free, Gluten-Free Stuffing a Success (No Eggs Required!) which teaches you about flavorful alternative flours, egg alternatives, flavor-rich ingredients (such as veggie broth, herbs, and vegetables.)
Next, decide on the texture and flavor profile.
This mushroom broth-based Wild Rice Stuffing is simple and earthy. This Raw Thanksgiving Stuffing is super robust and filled with pecans, almonds, turmeric, and sage. This very traditional Toasted Bread and Apple Stuffing complete with gluten-free bread crumbs, apple cider vinegar, celery, and garlic. If you’re really seeking to impress with your substituting skills, try serving up this nutrient-dense and creative Sweet Potato, Cranberry, and Quinoa Stuffing rich with zucchini, apricots, parsley, and lemon.
Your heart may have sunk when you thought about creating a Thanksgiving table that doesn’t include gluten … that’s cuz we all think gluten-free automatically means “zero bread.” This is a wild myth that I’m happy to put to bed.
Gluten-free bread can be fluffy, delicious, and nutritious! Plus, there are a plethora of substitutes to choose from depending on your personal palate and preference. Instead of wheat flour go with tapioca, almond, amaranth, coconut, buckwheat … just to name a few. Instead of eggs, try flaxseed eggs. Instead of dairy, go with alternative plant-based milk and vegan butter.
Want to branch out with your Thanksgiving biscuits? Here are a few creative recipes: Almond Flour Biscuits, Healthy Ginger Raisin Biscuits, Zucchini Oat Biscuits, Chocolate Caramel Hobnob Biscuits, or these Paleo Dinner Rolls.
When it comes to mashed potatoes, you’re generally gluten-free safe. Yet, it’s all those added “extras” that can really get you! Therefore, take the additional step to make sure your mashed potatoes are also gluten-free.
It’s also super easy!
What’s important? Something frothy and creamy and healthy fat-filled, such as coconut milk. What else? The type of potato! Different potato varieties offer a range of beautiful coloring, taste, and texture. You’ve got a lot to choose from including sweet potatoes, white potatoes, purple potatoes, russet, and the list goes on! Once you’ve decided on these major players, dig in to find the perfect vegan and gluten-free recipe to fit your table!
Here are some recipes to get you started: Rosemary Mashed Potatoes, Greek Mashed Potatoes, Baked Mashed Potato Fries, Indian Golden Mashed Potatoes With Curried Gravy, or this Mashed Potato Casserole With Broccoli and Cauliflower Gravy.
I’m not gonna lie … going nut-free and vegan will be a challenge. Yet, it’s a challenge that can be met with creativity and a wide flavor profile! It’s also important to remember that this may be one of the most potent and dangerous of allergies, especially those that are allergic to peanuts.
So, what are the biggest nut contenders on your table?
When it comes to cooking vegan, you’ll want to keep an eye out for gravy, stuffing, and that traditional casserole! Oftentimes, due to large oil content, nuts are ground down to create texture or even pulverized in a blender to add a thick binding agent when you’re avoiding eggs. Plus, just think about all those recipes that use almond, cashew, or even macadamia milk. Yep, those are nuts too!
Let’s take a look at some delightful nut-free recipes!
When looking to create a nut-free gravy, you may end with one that must include gluten. Gravy is gravy because of that thicken gelatinous design and both gluten and nuts help to accomplish that. With that said, you’re not out of luck if you’re really going all out and looking for nut-free and gluten-free. You’ll just need to get to know your substitutes!
This Thanksgiving Gravy is super traditional and completely nut-free. What about a non-traditional gravy option? Try this Oil-Free Gravy, Easy Mushroom Gravy, Savory Mushroom Gravy, Biscuits and Sausage Gravy, or this Calcium-Packed Navy Bean Biscuits and Roasted Garlic Gravy.
We’re back to stuffing! While gluten-free may be an important aspect of your stuffing ensemble, yet you may also want to consider going nut-free. With that said, combing these two can be a struggle. Nuts oftentimes provide a great substitute base for this chunky and savory Thanksgiving delight. Therefore, if you find a recipe that is nut-free, it’s super easy to take it one step further and make it gluten-free, simply by using the steps outlined in the gluten-free section.
To get you halfway there, here are a few nut-free recipes! Mushroom and Sage Stuffing, Thanksgiving Cornbread Stuffing With Gravy, Fennel, Fig, and Apple Stuffing, Herb and Lentil Stuffing, or this Cauliflower Cranberry Sage Stuffing.
I’m not sure how it came about, but the holidays have given birth to the traditional casserole. Whether it’s layered with Frito lays chips or fried green beans, these layered dishes are a staple complete with something crunchy. If you’re looking at super healthy or vegan recipes, those little crunchy delights oftentimes happen to be nuts. This holiday season, consider swapping out the nuts to accommodate those nut-allergies at the table!
Plus, there’s no end to the different combinations of casserole. Go super traditional with this Chili Cornbread Casserole (swap out the almond milk for hemp seed or coconut!), Brown Rice Casserole With Curry Butternut Squash, Ratatouille White Bean Casserole, or this Creamy Miso and Shallot Potato Casserole.
Alright, we’ve made it to the big kahuna!
Obviously, this isn’t really an allergy, but it is a dietary preference that many people are beginning to jam on. Luckily, you’re already designing a Thanksgiving table that’s focusing on a vegan-friendly culinary fare, so this section should be a breeze for you. When it comes to substituting meat, there are a handful of super delicious and healthy alternatives, from mushrooms to tofu to legumes!
When you look at your table, what are the big traditional Thanksgiving staples that you’ll be substituting? First off, there’s turkey, of course, then there’s the honeyed ham. Two of the biggies! Plus, remember that many meatless recipes may also include gluten-filled or nut-heavy ingredients. To help you make the best decision for your table, I’ve included some gluten-free and nut’free “turkey” and “ham” recipes.
Just to note, most gravy and stuffing recipes ask for animal-products, so jump back to either the nut-free or gluten-free section for some vegan-friendly recipes.
To start, here is the ULTIMATE gluten-free AND nut-free turkey recipe: Gluten-Free Vegan Turkey. This recipe relies on some of the best substitutes including rolled oats, amaranth, pea protein, and nutritional yeast. This Unturkey Roast does contain gluten but is nut-free. Seitan is another great option for vegan meat alternatives such as in this nut-free Seitan Pot Roast. You could also try out this Turkey Roll with Stuffing (has both gluten and nuts!) and knock out both the meatless option with the stuffing option!
While ham isn’t quite the staple that Turkey is, it’s a hugely popular meat option. When thinking about a turkey alternative, you could go with a vegan-friendly ham option — like this Pineapple Baked Ham (nut-free!) or this super creative and yummy Venezuelan Ham Bread (unfortunately, has both gluten and nuts!).
Untraditional Meatless Recipes
If you’re just not feeling turkey or ham, but you still want to accommodate those traditional meat-eaters with a delicious vegan option, how about a non-traditional meatless recipe? These out of the box meat alternatives are excellent for a vegan Thanksgiving table that may have meat-eaters present.
While going “sugarless” may seem like a vanity-driven dietary restriction, there’s a lot more to avoiding sugar than weight. Consuming high amounts of sugar or even small amounts of refined sugar has been linked to increased bodily inflammation, digestive upset, increased acne breakouts, and even an increased risk of certain cancers.
So, this holiday season, how about cutting refined sugar completely and going with naturally-sourced, low-sugar desserts? And, yes, they will still be absolutely delicious!
First, you’ll want to select how you’ll sweeten. For decadent chocolate creations, how about going with creamy coconut butter and raw cacao, plus a plant-based sweetener such as stevia and monk fruit? Try to avoid agave syrup, as this sweetener actually makes blood sugar spike. Also, when going with low sugar, you’ll also want to increase healthy fats such as nut butter, coconut oil, vegan butter, and, as mentioned, coconut and cacao butter!
Since your table is already stepping “out-of-the-box” how about taking your dessert in the same direction? You could go with the traditional pie — such as this Creamy Pumpkin-Coconut Pie — or maybe something a bit more creative such as this Chocolate Mug Cake, these individual Crunchy Almond Butter Soft Serve Ice Cream or Raw Hot Fudge Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream Cakes, this 5-Ingredient Quinoa Fudge, these Raspberry and Chocolate Macaroons.
Recommended Resources For Thanksgiving:
Check out the following resources:
- Try These 15 Awesome Green Bean Recipes This Thanksgiving!
- 15 Vegan Pasta Sides to Try This Thanksgiving!
- Save Room for Dessert! You Won’t Want to Skip These 20 Amazing Thanksgiving Desserts
- 15 Vegan Seasonal Mashed Vegetable Recipes for Your Thanksgiving Table
- 25 Amazing Vegan Desserts for Your Thanksgiving Table
- 15 Plant-Based Recipes For the Perfect Southern Thanksgiving
- 15 Stunning Thanksgiving Entrées Made With Just Vegetables
- 15 Vegan Small Plates and Starters for Your Thanksgiving Feast
- Make Your Thanksgiving the Best Ever With These 15 Grain-Free Recipes
- 15 Delicious Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Side Dishes
- 10 Gorgeous Vegan Gravy Recipes For Your Thanksgiving Menu!
- 5 Great Ideas To Make Your Thanksgiving Drinks Dazzling and Delicious
- 15 Cranberry Recipes For Thanksgiving That Are Vegan!
- Tips and Tricks to Making a Plant-Based Meatloaf For Thanksgiving
- Five Fantastic Vegan Stuffing Recipes for Thanksgiving!
- 10 Vegan Casseroles Perfect For Your Thanksgiving Dinner
- 7 Delicious Ways to Celebrate Thanksgiving Without the Turkey
BONUS Recommendation: Download Food Monster App For Amazing Plant-Based Recipes!
We highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest meatless, vegan and allergy-friendly recipe resource to help you get healthy! it’s a brilliant food app for anyone looking to cut out or reduce allergens like meat, dairy, soy, gluten, eggs, grains, and more! You can also make meal plans, add bookmarks, read feature stories, and browse recipes across hundreds of categories like diet, cuisine, meal type, occasion, ingredient, popular, seasonal, and so much more!
For more Animal, Earth, Life, Vegan Food, Health, and Recipe content published daily, subscribe to the One Green Planet Newsletter!
Lastly, being publicly-funded gives us a greater chance to continue providing you with high quality content. Please consider supporting us by donating!